Tuesday, 17 September 2013

16/9 editorial Climate science far from settled

Climate science far from settled



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THE science of climate change was always inexact, and it is becoming more so with the news climate scientists are preparing to revise down the pace at which climate change is happening and its likely impact.
According to media reports in the US and Britain, leaked documents from the upcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's fifth assessment report say climate models overestimated rising temperatures. The leaks suggest the world has been warming at half the rate claimed in the 2007 report. Importantly for policymakers, global temperatures are apparently less sensitive to rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide than previously believed.
The chilly Arctic summer that has left nearly 2.5 million more square kilometres of ocean blanketed with ice than at the same time last year, when coverage was at a record low, has also raised questions. Some analysts believe the economic impact of a modest rise in temperatures might be more positive than negative. If more productive farmland were to become available, for example, the drive for more punitive measures to combat carbon pollution would lose further momentum.
While the scientific consensus remains that climate change is real and human activity is having a major, detrimental effect, the world should act in unison to curb emissions. The way forward is through applying scientific expertise to industrial processes. The exploitation of shale gas is already a game changer, especially in the US.
The state of flux in climate science will influence the coming debate in Australia as Tony Abbott seeks to act on his mandate to repeal the carbon tax, but it should also prompt him to assess the exorbitant costs of his "direct action" policy. For years, The Australian has argued that Australia should act in conjunction with the rest of the world to cut carbon pollution, but not ahead of the world. The latest insights reinforce that view.
- See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/editorials/climate-science-far-from-settled/story-e6frg71x-1226719590302#sthash.x7OzPdQ7.dpuf

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